Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'll Stop Posting Images of Art From Cleveland Soon

Objects Being Taught They Are Nothing But Tools, 2010. Kim Beom (Korean, b. 1963). 

YUK! Or, Cleveland's Museum of Medical History

Vividly reminding me to be thankful every day for anesthesia and antibiotics, Cleveland's Museum of Medicine at University Circle had me queasy after only three or four paces into the permanent exhibition: a big china container marked "LEECHES."

I was reminded also of a visit many years ago to a graveyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, with my friend, Michael Spanola. We went to see the grave of Adam Smith, father of Capitalism, and author of The Wealth of Nations. Nearby, we saw an inscription: "Thank God for James Young Simpson's discovery of chloroform anaesthesia." And we looked at each other and said: "Thank God, indeed."
I have no idea who Benjamin Rush is, nor why the Museum keeps him in a tiny glass box.

Nor do I know why they treat the Museum guard so badly... The Museum also had a current exhibition, A History of Contraception. Parents! Keep your kids on the path of righteousness, and away from sexual thoughts: a visit to the Late Medieval Methods of Contraception will probably put them off for life.
My favorite image of the Museum shows early modern ideas of germs, microbes, microscopic diseases. A Gullivar-like character panics while being assailed by an army of miniature monsters. Death is blowing something into the poor guy's ear with a set of bellows -- stoking his fever, perhaps. And at the front of the engraving, that well-known miniature monster, Napolean, leads a bunch of baddies along, an infectious grin on his face.

Later on in the early evening I went on an art walk... and saw some delightful Ukrainian eggs. 

And some egg-shaped sheep.

At Cleveland State University... hydroponically-grown lettuce, clearly in the lap of lettuce luxury.

"Home" -- LCD Soundsystem

Dear me! I've had many a day like this... (Though my arm has never exploded and fallen off).

Friday, February 11, 2011


Friend v. Friend

Friendship is far less regulated and in some ways far more important than other social relationships to everyone. For an example, consider this hypothetical statement:
My best friend Bob has been my rock through each of my five failed marriages and divorces. 
A realist might acknowledge even on their wedding day, in their heart of hearts, that their marriage might not last, that 50 percent of marriages these days end in divorce, and that their own marriage might eventually unravel. The same person will have the same feeling about any of their friendships, but find the eventually ending of a regular friendship far more hurtful than a divorce. Indeed, divorce does not mean that the former husband and wife hate each other. Divorcing couples may still remain in close contact, for various reasons -- joint custody, say, and they may still be friends: "My ex-wife is one of my closest friends" is by no means an impossible scenario to imagine.

I have been hurt when a friendship has ended or when I have drifted apart from old friends. One friendship ended in the last two years with a sudden and total termination of contact by someone I considered a very dear and close friend: not a romantic connection, but a close, good friend. I am happy -- selfishly happy -- to say that I believe the other person ended the friendship because he was a total weirdo, and not because I (hypothetically) ate his bicycle, committed adultery with his wife, stole his cat. But his being a total weirdo was one of the reasons I liked him so much!

I just picked up the above book and hope to learn more about this topic and its increasingly legal ramifications. In our times, when the size of one's social network can be a matter for boasting (Facebook cuts you off if you add more than 5,000 people as friends), and when the word friend has of course become a verb: "Friends, Romans, countrymen! Friend me your friends."

I am astonished to have to tell you that on the dust jacket of this book, an Oxford University Press publication, there is an incredible and egregious typo, which to my even greater dismay, is repeated on the web page for the book, namely:
Friendship is one of our most important social institutions. It is the not only the salve for personal loneliness and isolation; it is the glue that binds society together. Yet for a host of reasons--longer hours at work, the Internet, suburban sprawl--many have argued that friendship is on the decline in contemporary America. In social surveys, researchers have found that Americans on average have fewer friends today than in times past.
How could that get past the editors?!


McKinley E-mail Dow Jones Index hits 12,000! 

U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time

U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time
Astonishing to watch the population of the U.S. creep up by 30 or 40 newborns across the course of an evening. The other numbers rocketing upwards are just plain scary.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catch Anything Nice Today, Dear?

Exotic diseases -- cholera, leprosy, the plague -- have appeared recently in NYC. The Bubonic Plague! Responsible only for the death of one third of the population of Europe in the fifteenth century, causing the only significant dip in the population of humans, ever.

Following up obliquely on my post earlier about Mayor Bloomberg's case of foot-in-mouth, one of the key figures in the American Irish Historical Society is Dr. Kevin Cahill Sr. One of the many hats Cahill wears is as a world-renowned expert on infectious diseases. Cahill was one of the first doctors to call attention to be paid to the mysterious new disease affecting gay men in 1980: HIV/AIDS.

Male Torso by Brancusi

From the Cleveland Museum of Art; brass, 1917. It seemed very poignant, and its vulnerability and poignancy I found almost overwhelming. As it was almost the last thing I saw in the Cleveland Museum of Art last Sunday, I was perhaps already too sodden with high art emotion!

Meet Mayor Michael BLOOP!-berg

NYC Mayor makes ill-advised "drunken Irish" remark at an Irish event: priceless!
Leaders of the Irish-American community on Thursday harshly criticized Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for invoking a stereotype about drunkenness at a reception honoring the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Mr. Bloomberg, speaking extemporaneously at the American Irish Historical Society on Wednesday night, joked that he was used to seeing “people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window” at the society.
“I know, that’s a stereotype of the Irish, but nevertheless, we Jews from around the corner think this,” Mr. Bloomberg added. (The society’s headquarters are a short stroll from Mr. Bloomberg’s town house on the Upper East Side.)
The mayor’s comments elicited a mixture of laughter, boos and moans from the crowd of 100 or so. A report in Irish Central, an Irish-American news site, said the audience was “astonished.”
Wouldn't you think that experienced politicians like Bloomberg might wander up to the podium at an event like this, repeating a mantra in their head: "Don't-mention-the-drink...Don't-mention-the-drink...Don't-mention-the-drink..."

If I may add: I've been past the Irish American Irish Irish Hysterical American Irish Society on more than one St Patrick's Day, and indeed, there were people outside and in the windows who were indeed doing a fair impression of Joxer Daly.

[Pause for laughter at the whole silly affair] Bwaahhhhaahahhhaa!

Maybe the Mayor was... y'know... maybe he'd been supping at the...

Radio Shack, Broadway, Between Reade and Chambers Streets

I clearly spend far too much time online. Pondering distance and time tonight, I queried Google Maps for mileage and hours to various far-flung places: Sao Paulo, Brazil (too far for Google Maps to calculate, strangely); Mexico City; Ontario, Canada... Anyway, it seems that if one enters just "New York, NY" as ones starting point, Google Maps takes as the starting point the above location: Broadway between Reade and Chambers Streets. Your journey begins halfway down the block, outside a Radio Shack.

I wonder why?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Interfering, Money-Wasting, Down-Your-Neck Breathing, Time-Wasting Big Government REPUBLICANS

Eighteenth Century Republicans Visiting D.C. Recently

Eight days into their majority control of the Ohio Legislature, state Republicans have introduced five (5) (FIVE!) anti-abortion bills. 

Parts of Cleveland have 35 to 40 percent unemployment. On that matter alone, laws prohibiting abortion will clearly help, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because, because [someone, anyone, help them, poor dears, they're stuck!]

When will this incoherence finally get nailed? What do self-respecting, nonsense-spouting conservatives in America have to do these days to make themselves unelectable nincompoops? It seems nothing works. Literally.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Your Moment of Cleveland, February 9th, 2011

 An apple that looked like a plum

 Frank Gehry-designed Department of Management at Case Western Reserve University

 Rodin's The Stinker

 Minus 5 degrees F tonight

 Westside Warehouses

 Reflected McKinley

Professor Schkreunj and dog sat out in snow too long

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sunday, February 06, 2011

What I Saw And Learned Today in Cleveland

The Houses of Parliament along Westminster Bridge by Alain Derain

First of all, I saw some amazing art today at the Cleveland Museum of Art, including some NYC collages by an artist called Red Grooms.  I made a brief visit, just before closing. It's a very grand, august museum, just like the Met or MOMA, but in Cleveland. One of the old Betty White-esque ladies on the front desk of the museum kept me waiting at the entrance with a long story about her hip replacment surgery next week. I was going to tell her my joke about the two coolest cats in any hospital being the "ultra-sound" guy and his stand-in, the "hip" replacement guy.

Monet's The Gardener's House at Antibes

East Cleveland is the dirtiest and poorest and saddest part of the U.S. I have seen to date (and that includes my West 19th Street cave in NYC, where I never wrote the Great American Novel, but I did ponder a Great Irish Navel). East Cleveland is also home to the Cleveland Clinic, one of the world's greatest and best medical surgery facilities, and the Clinic's glacial main complex resembles a UFO that has just touched down in shimmering, majestic, concentric, faintly humming splendor. You can get almost every major human organ replaced apart from your brain, but including your wallet. The clinic has, deep breath, the fourth largest police force in the state of Ohio, and as my friend and I went inside to the Starbucks (the reason for our visit), a bright yellow Cleveland Clinic helicopter bizzzzed lazily overhead, probably carrying fresh frozen brains and wallets. Inside, the Clinic is a cross between an airport terminal and a bank HQ.

Self-portrait with Hat, by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 

I also had time today to visit Case Western Reserve University law school, which had in its lobby a whole stack of info for LGTB people interested in law school, so this was a happy coincidence. However, the school name makes me think of standing in a liquor store and saying, "May I have a Case of your finest Western Reserve?"

Sniper by Luc Tuymans 
My friend and I shopped for food today, at a cheap grocery store in East Cleveland, spending about $40. By a dollar and change, the most expensive item we bought was the least processed -- two pounds of McIntosh Red apples at $2.50.

Bring Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness, by Damien Hearst

It's a funny old world indeed. As if to underline the extremities of wealth and poverty which I saw today, the Cleveland Museum of Art has on loan, the above triptych by Damien Hearst. Like gorgeous, somber windows in a mighty cathedral, each tiny, symmetrical blaze of color is in fact the wing or wings of dazzling bright butterflies, carefully stuck in splendorous rhythm on a background of black paint. It's done with exceedingly great care, but the effect is quite casually, as though by some insanely rich, dexterous insect-tearing monster child. Up close, its callous beauty took my breath away.

 Homer by Pensato

Observing nervously from nearby in the same gallery is Homer, above. I say nervously, but in fact the instantly-recognizable cartoon countenance of Homer Simpson seems to ooze sweat in a state of utter terror.

 Fire Screen by Feher
Though they come towards the end of this posting, these last images are no less powerful or beautiful, or both. The Fire Screen, above: beautiful.

I guess I liked the Monet, because of my instant idiosyncratic interpretation of it: it made me think of a certain view of distant lower Manhattan which one can see from a part of Jersey City, NJ -- you can see a couple of tall buildings in the painting in the distance to the left, with open water in between -- the Hudson River, it could be, as it passes Manhattan's southern tip and widens into upper New York Harbor.

And the Hearst butterfly massacre was gorgeous yet made me queasy, equally: all those dead insects! Sniper is a painting from a photo of a view of Baghdad in this past decade, the photo taken through an American soldier's rifle sights. It's an ugly, smudgy, bleary, deadly image, full of foreboding.

Perhaps Lot's Wife, by Anselm Kiefer, below, was my favorite, but I am now too tired to say anything about it!

Unterberg et al. v. Jimmy Carter et al

A very odd case:
Litigants in Unterberg et al. v. Jimmy Carter et al. allege that Carter’s 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid contains defamatory falsehoods about the state of Israel. The plaintiffs, who each bought a copy of the book for $27, maintain not that Carter was not entitled to make ‘malicious and false’ statements in the book, but that under New York General Business Law section 349 the plaintiffs’ rights were violated because they assumed they were buying a factual account of Israeli-Palestinian politics. 
Someone involved with the law suit said in the comments to the above blog posting:
It is a shame a former President would demean the office he held by engaging in such conduct, but his right to do so is not at issue in this case. It is about the false marketing and the law’s protection of the consumer from such trickery.
To which someone else replied:
Yes indeed. Going after Bush next?
The law suit seems like a crock to me. Those poor, poor book-buying members of the public: Carter's book practically jumped off the shelf and knocked all their brains out. Bad book!

Anyone Fancy a Drive?

The road to Four Corners Monument. A random thought!

So... did anyone know that there was an earthquake in New York State on Sunday, January 30th? Not a very big one, but an earthquake nonetheless:

Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location44.738°N, 74.584°W
Depth21 km (13.0 miles)
  • 12 km (7 miles) SSW (208°) from Brushton, NY
  • 17 km (10 miles) ESE (115°) from Brasher Falls-Winthrop, NY
  • 26 km (16 miles) WSW (242°) from Malone, NY
  • 32 km (20 miles) SE (131°) from Massena, NY
  • 111 km (69 miles) SE (131°) from Gloucester, Ontario, Canada
  • 116 km (72 miles) SE (130°) from OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada